England will go into day four of the second Ashes test in complete control having closed day three on 311 for 6, giving them a massive 521 lead over Australia, who will be asked to chase down a record total to avoid defeat.
I’m still unsure as to whether England’s first innings total of 425 is a good score on what is essentially still a flat Lord’s track, but with Australia 156 for 8 at the close of play on the second the home side can be proud of their efforts so far.
I’m still not quite sure how, but somehow England escaped with a draw from the first Ashes Test against Australia, closing out the fifth day on 252-9, 13 runs ahead of the Aussie total and with no time left for the tourists to bat.
End of day two: Australia 249 for one in reply to England’s 435 all out.
What a difference a day makes. If Wednesday’s cricket was a breathtaking rollercoaster ride then day 2 was more like a gentle twirl on the teacups followed by a night in reading War and Peace.
Australia have no Shane Warne, no Glenn McGrath, no Brett Lee and no Stuart Clark, yet England still managed to lose three wickets on the opening morning of the first Ashes Test and failed to take the sort of grip on the match, and the series, that was there for the taking.
The news that the West Indies squad for Thursday’s first test against Bangladesh have withdrawn their services, effectively announcing a boycott of the series, has thrown cricket in the once-proud Caribbean into further chaos and things could turn very nasty in the coming days.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be praying that the rumours of a sideways turning Cardiff wicket prove to be complete fallacy when the Ashes series begins on Wednesday.
England’s cricketers face a monumental task if they are to regain the Ashes they surrendered so meekly in 2006/07. Forget 2005 for a moment and take a longer-term view. Since the turn of the 20th Century, England have managed just 17 victories in Ashes series, compared to Australia’s 30, as they have regularly been confounded technically and mentally.